As a sleep-deprived parent of an infant, you might have been thankful when your baby found his thumb and learned to soothe himself. But now that he’s older, you’re finding it a frustratingly stubborn habit. Never fear. We’ve gathered four ideas from moms who have convinced their child to drop it.Thumb sucking_1

-At the outset of training your child to stop sucking his thumb, set boundaries for him. You could instruct your child that he is not allowed to suck his thumb outside of his bedroom. As long as you enforce the boundaries, your child’s desire to be with others will motivate him to isolate the behavior to naptime and bedtime.

– It’s tempting to point out every time you spot your child’s thumb in her mouth. But in addition to coming across as nagging, your reminders may cause humiliation for your child when she is in public. Help her out by creating a subtle signal you can use to remind her when she drifts into thumb sucking.

– Devices that cover the thumb and attach around the wrist can be strong deterrents to sucking. Made of lycra or flexible plastic, they’re best worn only during problem times such as bedtime or while watching TV.

– Discuss with your child how dropping the habit is part of getting bigger. Choose together a reward for when your child has stopped, like a “big kid” outing or toy. Decide ahead of time what constitutes success, such as one week without sucking. Encourage your child to keep that goal in mind whenever she is tempted to pop her thumb in her mouth.

One final note: I once heard the remark, “nobody walks up to receive their diploma sucking their thumb.” Your child will give it up; the habit may just take longer to break than you hope.